Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: Taste of Colorado

I had the great pleasure of hitting up Taste of Colorado with three fantastic friends who were willing to try, and share, 12 hours of tasty treats! I jotted down comments while we made our rounds. I'm leaving out many of the unremarkable items.

1. Lora's Donuts: I had the old fashioned, and it was tasty, but nothing special. I definitely prefer the Cville farmer's market donuts better.

2. Dave's Famous BBQ: This was one of the things I was really looking forward to. Chocolate covered bacon! But, apparently I was looking forward to it too much. The bacon was thin cut, and the chocolate overpowered the bacon flavor. But at Dave's we also tried the pulled pork, which was really delicious. The devil's spit sauce was nicely spicey. Not impossibly hot, and with a delicious flavor.

3. Mustard's Last Stand: these were chicago style hot dogs. The toppings were great, and I'll definitely do chicago style again, but the dog itself was unremarkable.

4. Divine Donuts: These were lovely! They were like mini funnel cakes, which made them wonderful, because a full funnel cake is always too much. But a few little funnel cake rings? Perfection!

5. Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe: I tried the cactus burrito. And, ya know, I really enjoyed this. It had the texture of red bell pepper. I think that it had been pickled, but that made the flavor interesting. I would definitely do this again.

6. Bayou Bob's: Fried alligator is dissapointing EVERY time I have it. Never having it again. Done with it. This stuff was awful. Blech.

7. Cookie Indulgence: Deep fried cookie dough. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. What do I need to say about this? Heart attack in a little container. Delicious, wonderful, ooey-gooey heart attack.

8. Randolph's: Golden beet gazpacho was delicious, refreshing, and had a very pretty golden yellow color.

9. Assignments Restaurant: We tried the white gazpacho and it was...disgusting. The flavors were fine, but the texture was really grainy, and it wasn't refreshing like a gazpacho usually is. It was bean and cream based, which just really didn't work out for me.

10. The Cork House Wine Restaurant: The lamb meatball was just great. It was moist, delicious, and a little gamey in a great way. It had so much more flavor than your normal run of the mill meatball. It was served with tomato sauce, and some feta. Tasty!

11. Grand Lux Cafe: OMG BEIGNETS! I've had these before, and they are always out of this world delicious. If you ever have the opportunity, these are a must have. They always come with delicious dipping sauces, and are served hot and fresh. Probably my favorite thing we had all day.

12. Xing Tea: This is a Colorado based tea company that makes canned iced tea. This tea was great. Not too sweet, like most canned teas (think Lipton's). And all natural. Very nice.

13. Hard Rock Cafe: The twisted mac n' cheese was a giant dissapointment. It had zero flavor, and was not made with flavorful or good quality cheeses. The only little bright note was a little bit of heat from the crushed red peppers they used. I'll remember that for the next time I make mac n' cheese, which will be endlessly better than this junk.

14. Tocabe: The frybread was just awful. We had a couple of bite each and threw it away. Flavorless. Just bread with cinnamon on it. Not even cinnamon sugar. Blech.

15. Saltwater Cowboy: This was our dinner. And a WONDERFUL dinner it was! We had an elk brat and a wild boar brat. These were delicious. The boar brat was nicely spicey, and the elk brat tasted like the hot dog of your dreams. It had big, bold flavor all the way through. I wonder if I can have these shipped to me, because this would take tailgating to the next level....?

16. Gigi's Cupcakes: The final item of what was a truly delicious day. Cupcakes! They had cupcakes in this perfect mini size. They were each four bites of delicious fattiness. The buttercream frosting was wonderful. My favorite combination the chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. What a perfect ending to this epic eating day!

Banana Pudding

I had some bananas that were beyond the point where I was willing to eat them on their own. Usually I make banana bread when that happens. But I'm bored with that. So I decided to find something new to make.

I started out thinking banana cream pie, because then I could make pie dough again. Turns out you need 9 bananas to do that. I had 4. So instead I ended up doing banana pudding.

The pudding was amazingly easy to make. Who knew?! I mixed together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1/4 tsp salt in a sauce pan. Then I whisked in 4 egg yolks, keeping the whites for later. Once the egg yolks were thoroughly mixed in, I whisked in 1 cup of skim milk and 1 cup of heavy cream. I put the sauce pan over medium heat and whisked constantly until the mixture thickened (about 10 minutes). Took it off the heat, whisked in 1/2 tsp vanilla, and continued whisking until the mixture cooled down a little.

Before I started with the pudding I sliced the bananas and put them in a tupperware with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, occassionally turning it over to make sure the lemon juice was evenly distributed. Using an oven proof glass bowl, I layered pudding, crumbled vanilla wafers, and bananas, and then repeated that, finishing with a layer of pudding on the top.

The final touch before popping this combo in the oven was making a meringue. I've never made meringue, but it was soooo easy! Just put four egg whites in my stand mixer bowl, added a pinch of cream of tartar, and then turned the mixer on to medium/high. While the mixer was going, but before the whites had started to peak, I added 2 tablespoons of sugar. Once the whites came to hard peaks, I stopped the mixer and spooned the meringue over the pudding.

Baked the pudding at 400 degrees for a little less than 10 minutes. And out came this...

Pretty, easy, and delicious! You could probably make all sorts of combos using this as the foundation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pie Crust, Try Two: Practice Makes Perfect

After a few weeks to mend my wounds after my sort of defeat at the hands of pie crust, I got back in the kitchen to try it all again. This time I went for a classic. Apple Pie. I used the same combination of ingredients for my pie crust, because Pennsylvania is still thwarting my efforts at getting lard (and alcohol, but that's another rant).

This time I learned from my last effort. More water. Just a little bit more. And it really made a big difference. This time I had no problem getting my dough to hold together. However, I also recognized a new flaw in my technique. I don't use my rolling pin well. I noticed it in the first disc I rolled out (I was doing a two crust pie). Rather than starting at the bottom and rolling all the way out, I often start in the middle. Hence, my crusts end up with uneven thickness, and lots of dough on one side. I tried rolling from one edge to the other with my second disc, and that turned out so much better! My pie top was beautifully even, with no tears. Go me!

For the filling, I peeled, cored, and sliced 6 apples. I prefer granny smith, but I tossed in two of the red/green ones (what are they called again?)for some variety, and then covered the apples with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. In a separate, small bowl, I mixed together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp salt, and 2 tablespoons flour. Poured that into the apples, and tossed it until the apples were evenly coated. Once I had the filling in my pie crust, I chopped 2 tablespoons of cold butter into small cubes and spread them over the apples, then put the top layer of dough on.

And the result? Mmmmmm delicious! And that wasn't just my opinion. My guinea taster Aaron agreed! Yay!

Doesn't it look pretty?!